So, how does social media affect relationships? Social media is notorious when it comes to affecting real life. It negatively affects relations, especially between family members. It can create distance and disconnection, as well as feelings of jealousy or inadequacy. 

This article focuses on how social media affects family members and what steps can be taken to avoid these adverse effects on our family life.

Experts have weighed in with their opinions, informing readers about the negative impact that social media has on families, while also suggesting tips on how they can help their loved ones avoid these pitfalls while still using technology.

Unrealistic Online Persona Creating Personal and Social Problems

“For many folks, using social media is a way of being in the world especially when the opportunity for in person connection is limited. Features like Instagram Stories is a platform that produces a spectacular dimensional aspect of identity. Not only does it provide the opportunity to be seen and exist in the eyes of others, but folks can do so by creating their own narrative and editing the lens of perception through which others view them. Particularly for younger users who have grown up with these features, there is a sense that if no one is watching them, they cease to be important and exist. A significant developmental milestone is to be seen through the eyes of peers and others, and in turn, to see oneself’s developing identity reflected back to them. Aspects of users’ cultivated and idealized identities are getting mirrored back to them through this feature. This becomes problematic when the mirroring function primarily exists in the virtual realm because this mirror is not an accurate reflection of one’s whole and authentic self. Instead, dependence builds based on this mirror, where users are dependent on other viewers to look at them to validate their worth. This also presents problems in families as users’ online personas are often not congruent to their offline selves and create conflicts with the ones who know them best as they try to reconcile these two aspects of self. This reconciliation is often most apparent at home where the merging of these 2 parts of the self – both on and off line – must live in harmony.”

Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital

Zero Interactions

“As a father, it is my responsibility to do what’s best for my family. Now, regarding this issue I’d like to give an insight and share some advice. Using social media irresponsibly would really cause negative impacts most especially in relationships between families without even noticing. It results in less communication up to no communication at all since everyone, most especially teens and young adults, is focused and busy interacting with other people through different social media platforms which leads them to disregard things and people that really matter. In my case, I  discipline my kids by limiting their time in using social media, and I strictly implement the rule; no phone during meal time because that’s the only chance we get to bond together due to busy schedules.”

Robert Johnson, Founder Sawinery

Creating Anxiety, Family Conflicts and Disconnecting Real-Life Relationships

“In recent years, there has been a reflux of research and articles about the adverse effects of social media and family relationships. Social networks have become a natural extension of a family’s dynamics. It has enabled perpetual connectivity with family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and oftentimes; social media friends, those you haven’t even physically met. The abundant use of social media consumption produces a lack of personal interaction. Technology has created unforeseen risks and oppressive expectations of continual availability, creating anxiety and conflicts between family members, especially parents and children. Children seek to have independence with their media usage with hopes to lessen the extent of parental supervision. However, stress and arguments will emerge as parents and children disagree over the level of autonomy youths can enjoy in their mobile devices. A family dinner was a time when parents and children gathered, talked about their daily events, shared stories, and had a few laughs. It was a time of bonding, a time of personal connection. The family dinner we once knew is deteriorating and has turned to silence, being overly anxious in their devices, scrolling, posting, commenting, sharing of the next digital stimulation. Families often would sit together, have family game night, watch a movie and be present in the moment  with each other. The increase in digital socialism has caused a disconnect in interpersonal relationships, decreased  face-to-face communication and interaction, and the breaking up of family relationships. The household members are  not boosting or embracing unity in warmth, love, intimacy, and humanity, which are vital to nourish any relationship.  Nevertheless, social media consumption has consequently caused family members to be socially isolated, especially children and adolescents. Social media has caused disconnections, misunderstandings, conflicts, absence of honesty, and trust ending with a frangible family unit.”

John P. Carnesecchi (LCSW, CEAP), Clinical Director and GTS Founder

Family Relations are Strained Because of Social Media Relations

“The use of social media is one of the leading causes of strained family ties. Some families will experience these strains because of controlling social media use among family members. Others will fall out because one or several family members post something that the family finds offensive. There are also family ties that strain owing to the people that a member or members of a family interact with on social media platforms. Social media has also been a leading cause of family reunions and reconnection. Before social media, it was easy to lose touch with family members, especially if they happened to live far away and were unreachable via phone or mail. With social media now, people can search the names of their family members and analyze profiles that come up to identify their beloved ones and rekindle their connections.”

Harriet Chan, Co-founder & Marketing Director CocoFinder

Social Media’s Danger for Couples

“As someone who works every week with couples suffering the effects of infidelity and betrayal, I can say with confidence that social media can have a terrible effect on marriages. People often use social media to reconnect with old friends, and old boyfriends and girlfriends. Reconnecting, in and of itself, isn’t the problem. Issues begin when the reconnection happens in secrecy. When these conversations happen without the knowledge of your current partners, they are far more likely to rekindle an old flame. And even if you don’t spiral into an obvious emotional affair, you can cross lines that will harm the trust your partner has in you. To prevent this from happening, be open and honest about any old connections you make via social media. If your partner doesn’t like it, cut it off! At the very least, open your accounts. In the healthiest relationships, partners tell one another everything and protect their relationship first. Apply those two rules, and you should be fine.”

Dr. Jake Porter, LPC DaringVentures

While it is by no means wrong to use social media, we need to set limits and rules for how we use it and how long we use it. Allowing ourselves to absorb ourselves, time and energy, into social media can deteriorate real-life relationships. A balance works best, with social media use severely limited since we already spend most of our day online.

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